A big freeze across the South Island brought a heavy frost to Christchurch and froze large parts of the Shotover River near Queenstown.
The biggest freeze in almost 20 years has kept jet-boat operators off the Shotover River for almost a record period, with ice up to 100 millimetres thick in places, allowing people to walk more than a metre on to the river.
In Christchurch, temperatures plummeted to -2 degrees Celsius at 8am, with MetService saying it felt like -4C. Icy roads were a hazard for drivers.
A car slipped off the road near Little River this morning in the icy conditions.
A police spokeswoman said a car had skidded on ice and crashed into a ditch about 7.50am on the Christchurch-Akaroa road.
Police and firefighters attended the scene, but the occupants of the car were not injured.
In Queenstown, ice made it too dangerous for boats to operate on the Shotover River because large chunks sucked into the jet units can cause them to lose power and steering.
Ngai Tahu Tourism southern region jet-boating manager Clark Scott said that until 2pm yesterday, Shotover Jet was getting close to its 1994 record of 11 consecutive days not operating because of ice.
The big red boats finally got back on the water for two hours after a frustrating eight-day hiatus.
Scott said one morning last week, when the air temperature dropped to -10C, the water temperature was -2C, although the entire river had not frozen over.
"It's because the water is flowing so quickly it has no chance to solidify. It's phenomenal," he said.
Last week was traditionally one of Queenstown's two busiest winter weeks, the first week of the school holidays. The company normally carried hundreds of passengers a day during that week, he said.
Further upstream in the frozen Skippers Canyon, Skippers Canyon Jet managing director Ben Hohneck said it had lost more than $50,000 during the past eight days, when its boats would normally carry 50 people a day.
In some places the river had frozen about 30 centimetres deep and 10 metres across. It was the longest period it had been off the water since 1992, when ice blocked trips for two weeks, Hohneck said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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